Could getting to grips with neurodiversity be your organisation's next competitive advantage?
Written by Jenny Scott on 17 Jan 2023
Current estimates are that one in seven people in the UK (1) are neurodivergent and yet the neurodiverse community persists as a largely underutilised talent pool (2). With neurodiverse teams presenting a range of benefits, could getting to grips with neurodiversity be your organisations next competitive advantage.
Neurodiversity is an umbrella term referring to a range of neuro-cognitive development conditions such as Autism, Tourette’s and Specific Learning Differences (dyslexia, dyspraxia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, AD(H)D) and it’s estimated that one in seven people in the UK are neurodivergent (1) as supposed to neurotypical.
There is a continuing and developing body of research into the specialist skills that neurodivergent people bring to the workforce: creative thinking; visual-spatial reasoning; hyper-focus; passion and courage; memory ability; and other ‘specialist individual skills’ including reading; drawing; music and computation; innovative thinking and detail observation; high verbal comprehension ability; entrepreneurialism; creativity and cognitive control; practical skills; and storytelling abilities (3) all of which can represent strengths within our workforces.
‘studies found that neurodiverse teams are 30% more productive than neurotypical ones and made fewer errors’ (4)
However, evidence suggests this is an underutilised talent pool. The gap in employment outcomes (into highly skilled employment or further study) between graduates with a known disability and those without, has long been evidenced (5) and the neurodiverse population persist in this space, with those in employment often being underemployed (6). With the benefits of having a diverse (neurodivergent and otherwise) workforce being widely reported (7&8) are we missing an opportunity to tap into this resource?
Reasonable adjustments may of course be required to support staff, but broader knowledge may enable us to implement offers within our organisations that enable our staff not just to survive work but to thrive. Our data shows that our neurodiverse users access tools that offer support associated with time management, concentration, teamwork, self-esteem, communication, and stress management, all of which are prevalent work-related difficulties found in the neurodiverse population. There are also a wide range of tools, software and equipment that can be considered, much of which can attract funding through the governments Access to Work scheme.
Creating inclusive environments from recruitment through to promotion and everything in between has shown rewards in ‘productivity, innovation, culture and talent retention’ (8) and is the reason why organisations are beginning to rethink their HR processes and embedding policies that encourage a more diverse pool of talent. In a world where competitive advantage is everything, why would you not?